ITALIAN WONDERS IN INTERNATIONAL CINEMA
From the hat worn by Jack Sparrow in “Pirates of the Caribbean” to the armor in “Gladiator”, the official name of the Italian excellence in Hollywood film production is The Maestri. All you need to know about this leading Italian company that brings the m
Everyone dreams about Hollywood. We grow up with Audrey Hepburn’s gang swaying to the notes of “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly”, with Russell Crowe “having his vengeance in this life or the next”, fascinated by brilliant smiles, dramatic interpretations and touching monologues. But would we have loved the same Maximus Decimus Meridius, “the Gladiator”, if he had been dressed in the orator’s little tunic? Would Willem Dafoe be credible in Last Temptation of Christ with a crew cut? Answer: No.
We love movies that are perfect, that envelop us in their credibility, perhaps not always historically accurate, but just enough. They make us dream big, and dream beautifully.
And these dreams have only one name: The Maestri. The Maestri is a London-based company that offers the international market what it can best produce in Italy: a collector of wonders that combines under one umbrella all the crafts that give life to the cinema of dreams: costumes and jewelry, hats, wigs and props, for cinema, television and theater.
Needless to say, The Maestri is among the best: all the companies represented have a storied and award-winning history (with no few Oscar winners among them). But why does Hollywood love Italy? Because Made in Italy guarantees high quality, originality and craftsmanship, as shown by the many iconic objects since entered into the collective imagination, which we find in cinematic or theatrical productions such as Jack Sparrow’s hat or Rose’s in “Titanic” or the jewelry of the Young Pope and the armor in “Gladiator”.
So, let’s get to know more about the producers of these masterpieces that are Annamode costumes, Laboratorio Pieroni, Jewel House, Rocchetti Wigs, Costumi d’arte and E.rancati.
Annamode costumes, for example, is the company
founded by the Allegri sisters, recognized by show business professionals as one of the most important costume designers in cinema and theater. Its specialty is its heritage collection of authentic clothes from the mid 1700s to the 1980s. Since 1950 Annamode has been involved in the production of far too many films to name. Among the best-loved are De Sica’s “Marriage Italian Style”, Benigni’s “The Little Devil”, “Marie Antoinette” by Sofia Coppola, “Anna Karenina” by Joe Wright and the TV series “The Young Pope”, dressing actresses of the caliber of Liza Minelli and Scarlett Johansson.
Not only vintage dresses, but also high-fashion productions and ad-hoc cinematic events, such as the costumes made for the launch party for 2017 production “The Beauty & the Beast”, with Emma Watson as the enchanting lead. Alongside production is the foundation, created in 2010, which begins with the preservation and enhancement of the heritage collection, accumulated throughout the company’s history, to promoting cultural initiatives and activities conducive to fostering knowledge around the world.
Its work is artisinal but not antique. One of the most amazing and, indeed, practical aspects, is E-costumes, that is to say the whole collection grouped into a huge catalog accessible online to any user with an internet connection.
The story of the second costume designers represented by The Maestri, Costumi d’arte, is full of twists and turns. Initially founded as a small antique shop and then transformed into a Art House, it finally achieved greatness as a costume designer and vintage collector: the productions in which we saw its costumes run from cinematic milestones such as “Ben Hur”, “Quo
The skill of the actors, directors and screenwriters combines with those who create the costumes, wigs, and special makeup, with knowledge and tradition, ingenuity and creativity.
Vadis” and “The Marquis of Grillo”, to modern masterpieces such as “V for Vengeance”, “Interview with the Vampire”, “The Patriot” and “Casanova”. So many stylists and designers today contribute to making great and faithful productions reality, that they range from cinema to theater and from ballet to opera. If we talk about headwear, the absolute leader is Pieroni Laboratory, the largest Italian handicraft company internationally renowned for the production
and rental of hats, headdresses and headwear for cinema, theater and television.
Think of any costume film made from 1940 to today: 90% of the hats you’ve seen worn by the lead is Made in Italy.
Tradition demands that the products are made entirely by hand after historical research and faithful reconstruction, without rival for quality, personality and beauty. Just think of the feathers worn by the three musketeers in “The Man in the Iron Mask”, the breastplates in “Gladiator” or “The Passion of Christ”, the exotic headwear of “The Last Emperor” or the jeweled head of Satine in “Moulin Rouge!”.
Its activity grew up around the forties, fueling the myth of Cinecittà, and thanks to fruitful collaboration with Hollywood, the family name of Pieroni managed to make its way in film and became a great company recognized around the world, not least with the Oscar Award given to Colleen Atwood for the costumes in “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”, specifically Pieroni creations.
So many titles feature Pieroni headwear: “The Duchess” by Saul Dibb, “War & Peace”, “The Viceroys”, “The Illusionist”, “Maleficent”, “Spectre”, “Ben Hur”, “The Young Pope”, and “Medici: Masters of Florence”, are just a few, a very few, of the great successes accompanying this Italian brand.
The accessory of Pieroni headwear is as essential to the movie as film itself, and in many cases it almost becomes its symbol, such as Kate Winslet’s huge hat in “Titanic”. Without doubt, the most striking example is in “Pirates of the Caribbean”, where the famous tricorne worn by Johnny Depp became synonymous with the character of Jack Sparrow. According to Massimo Pieroni, the creation of the hats for the pirate saga was the experience that has given him most satisfaction.
“For just the first film, we prepared 40 different versions of the tricorne. Johnny Depp immediately chose the one preferred by costume designer Penny Rose and myself: a cowboy-military mix with a slovenly appearance,” says the creator.
That notwithstanding, Johnny Depp and Keira Knightley are two actors fond of Pieroni creations: in addition to the famous tricorne worn in “Pirates of the Caribbean”, which has become an iconic item for the character of Jack Sparrow, we also remember Willy Wonka’s elegant hat in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, and the colorful one of Tim Burton’s Mad Hatter in “Alice in Wonderland”.
But cinema is not only clothes and hats: every woman knows that accessories make a difference, in whatever era. The story of Jewel House is a curious one. The largest jewelry company in the world has a collection of costume jewelry of
A movie is a mishmash of dreams, and the skill of every craftsman helps create this ever-flourishing dream market because dreams do not age
more than 20,000 pieces that runs across all ages, from the archaic to the present day. It was created by Carlo Poggioli, an internationally renowned costume designer who, with the help of the old handicraft company L.A.B.A. founded by Nino Lembo in the 1960s, has restored the jewelry, combining his experience and passion for costume jewelry. Jewel House jewels have been used in a huge number of movies and international TV series, including: “Downton Abbey”, “The Borgias”, “The Tudors”, “Game of Thrones”, “Vikings”, and “The Vatican”, directed by Ridley Scott.
The tools of E.rancati, covering 150 years of history, as well as jewelry, include accessories, furniture, and especially weapons: weapons of every shape, age and size, from the arenas of Ancient Rome to the green pastures of Scotland. Do you remember Radames’ sword in “Aida”, the helmets in “Ben Hur”, the breastplates in “Game of Thrones” or the Thor’s helmets? They have slain enemies and conquered
passions but, above all, they have won the battle of time by remaining in our memory thanks to E.rancati’s historic armory.
Nothing more than things of iron, wood, plastic and leather, created with the genius of real “show masters” challenge the fiction and transform it into reality. To bring the dream to life.
But the show must go on, and often modernity ends up beating the cycles of time, killing a vintage drama with one fine cut from today. Well, essential to the hallowed list of The Maestri is the leading Italian company in the production, restoration and maintenance of wigs for the show. Rocchetti Wigs offers a highly specialized service in the production of wigs, but also as makeup artists, especially for the special effects of aging. Within the company there are also specialists in the production of beard, sideburns and incredibly lifelike mustaches. There are countless collaborations of the Rocchetti company with the world of cinema, television and theater. Among the many we might remember the wig of Cetto La Qualunque in the comedy “Qualunquemente” or that of “Marie Antoinette” by Sofia Coppola. Rocchetti wigs were involved in the tricks and special effects for great movie masters such as Giuseppe Tornatore in “Cinema Paradiso” or “The Last Temptation of Christ” by Martin Scorsese. Among the many masterpieces, for Bruce Beresford’s “Driving Miss Daisy”, the Oscar was awarded to the company for Best Makeup.